With three relegation survival attempts under his belt, Big Sam Allardyce had a 66% success rate after helping Union Berlin to stay in Bundesliga for the 2025/26 campaign. But he immediately resigned and holidayed ahead to Christmas Day 2025 to assess the teams bottom of the top five leagues across Europe.
Bottom At Christmas Season 4
Perhaps surprisingly, Big Sam had 5 new clubs to select from. Stoke propped up the Premier League with 8 points and were 8 points from safety. Levante were bottom of La Liga with 11 points but only 2 points from safety. Valenciennes had just 5 points from 16 games in Ligue 1 and were 10 points from safety. In Italy, Torino were bottom of the pile with 6 points and were 8 points adrift of 17th place. And Greuter Furth were bottom of Bundesliga with 7 points and 8 from safety.
Having assessed those options, and having already managed in England and Germany, Big Sam decided it was time to tick off a new country. Because Allardici was headed to Italy.
Assessing A Tough Task At Torino
Torino are expected to finish mid-table yet find themselves well adrift after 16 of the 38-game Serie A season. They have just 1 win and 6 points and have only scored 10 goals, leaving them 8 points adrift of 17th-place Cremonese. Even more worrying, Torino had equalled the club’s all-time record winless streak of 11 games.
However, the squad available to Big Sam didn’t look that bad. They were particularly strong in defence with players like Alessandro Buongiorno, Perr Schuurs, Kelvin Amian and Ricardo Rodríguez. But there were also decent midfielders like Sasa Lukic and Gustavo Assuncao, plus youngsters Emirhan Ílkhan, Aaron Ciammiglichella and Josep Lluis Riverola. They also had a decent striker option in Pietro Pellegri, although he has 2 goals in 16 this season and just 16 in 143 career league games.
Of course, there was plenty of dross at the club, which saw Big Sam flog 22 players for a profit of around £10m. Then on deadline day, Atlético met Schuurs’ £27.5m release fee and winger Zito moved to Leicester for £7.5m. Big Sam’s first move was to bring in an elite attacker as Matheus Cunha signed for just £4.5m from Juventus. Even better deals were signing Giovanni Reyna for just £5m from Chelsea and bringing in Jérémy Doku for £6m rising to £16m on deadline day. He also loaned in Barcelona midfielder Pablo Torre, Real Madrid’s Reinier and Luka Romero from Atalanta then centre-backs Valentín Gómez, Davide Bettella and Mario Hermoso from Man City and Barcelona to replace Schuurs.
And with that fairly hefty rebuild done and dusted, Big Sam opted for an odd-looking 4-3-3 with Cunha and Reyna playing in behind Pellegri and Gustavo Assuncao mopping up behind the midfield. And on paper, it looked like a pretty strong team.
Big Sam Provides A New Manager Bounce
Big Sam’s Torino reign started with a lucky 2-0 win at Cagliari with goals by Lukic and Pellegri. The new signings arrived for a home game against Monza and inspired another 2-0 victory with goals by Pellegri and Ílkhan’s 1st of the season. Pellegri scored again in a 1-0 win at Sassuolo before a stunning 3-0 win at 2nd-place Roma, which began with another Pellegri goal before a second-half Reyna brace. Big Sam had won all 4 of his games in charge and already led Torino out of the relegation zone!
A big chance to extend that form came at 19th-place Benevento and they delivered as Pellegri scored for the 5th successive game to nick a 1-0 win. That equalled the club record of 5 successive victories but they couldn’t break it as they fell to a 2-0 loss at home to reigning champions Inter and a Lautaro Martínez brace. Reinier scored his first goal in a 2-1 loss at Udinese, who climbed into the Champions League places.
They got back to winning ways as that man Pellegri scored the only goal at home to Fiorentina. And he scored again in an exciting 3-2 victory at home to Bologna, in which Doku’s 1st goal for the club was the winner. That lifted Torino 6 points clear of the drop zone and they extended that to 8 and moved up to 11th in the table as Pellegri scored the only goal at bottom-side Sudtirol. The striker was really excelling, which showed as he hit a stunning second-half hat-trick in a 5-2 hammering of Hellas Verona, which was understandable given they had Lloris in goal and Alderweireld at centre-back!
10 Games To Seal Survival
Big Sam’s team was in stunning form, winning 9 and taking 27 points from his 12 games in charge. They were now 10 points clear of the relegation zone and potentially already safe, considering 35 points had been enough to avoid relegation in the last 3 seasons.
The final 10 games began with a tough run of games. First up was the Mole Derby at home to leaders Juventus and they only lost 1-0 to a second-half Vlahovic goal before losing 3-1 at Lazio. but they responded in style as 2 goals in a minute both created by Cunha for Reyna and Ílkhan secured a shock 2-1 win at Milan.
That win kept them 10 points clear of the drop but Big Sam was pretty sure his team was now safe. And that was confirmed as they went on to beat fellow in-form side Cremonese 1-0, drew 1-1 at Genoa and lost 1-0 at home to Napoli. They wrapped up the campaign with a 1-1 at Salernitana, a 4-0 hammering of Cagliari led by Reyna and Doku braces, a 2-2 at Monza and a 1-1 at home to Sassuolo thanks to an injury-time Reinier equaliser.
That saw Torino finish in 12th on an impressive tally of 46 points, after having just 6 going into January! Big Sam claimed 40 points from his 22 games in charge, leading Torino to finish 15 points clear of relegation. The key man behind this turnaround was Reyna, who was absolutely brilliant and finished the season with the top average rating in Serie A of 7.42 from 19 games.
Big Sam had pulled off a mini-miracle to turn around a beleaguered Torino. His January signings had transformed the club, with Reyna the best player in the league since and Cunha performing to a high standard. But he also got the best out of Pellegri, who ended the season with 17 goals having scored just 2 before Big Sam’s arrival. In fact, Pellegri scored an amazing 15 goals in 20 games under Big Sam. While the promising Ílkhan impressed and got 2 goals and 5 assists. This is definitely a club with plenty of promise – so I’m going to keep it as a save to continue offline.
Big Sam now enjoys a 75% success rate after leading Torino, Union Berlin and Southampton to safety, with just the Schalke failure on his record.
But what awaits him in season 5? Join us next Wednesday to find out!